Is Scientology a force for good?
LRH wasn’t particularly shy about the new-fangled concepts he was about to introduce. From Wikipedia: “Dianetics is a set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between the mind and body created by L. Ron Hubbard.” Although the pseudoscience of dianetics precedes Scientology by some years, for as far as the new recruit can tell it is a distinction without a difference. Scientology is the religion and dianetics is what it does. Although the ‘dianetic’ auditing preceding Scientology seems to have been without the use of an e-meter, the ‘processing’ happening in Scientology is still based on the ‘theory of dianetics’.
From Wikipedia again:
In his book from 1972, reproduced posthumously online in 1996 (one of the first books releasing information from within the organisation) Robert Kaufman describes his first encounters with Scientology and how he got attracted to the auditing ritual. While careful to remain out of the hands of the more fanatic “org”-members, he lets himself be audited by friends, friends of friends and acquaintances thereof.
Despite his sceptic and careful approach after a while Robert attests to some positive feelings emerging after an audit session ended. Gradually Robert started interpreting events in his life as “better” thanks to his “releasing” of blockages. His friends, climbing the levels of the Scientology-chart also invited him to bring other prospects in, possibly receptive to auditing. They also urged him to go to Saint Hill to ‘go clear’ (a process of shedding your ‘reactive mind’ and abandoning all trauma and inhibitions and becoming an aspirant Scientologist) which eventually Robert does.
Auditing is the central therapeutic activity around which Scientology is build. According to testimony of existing and former members of the church, it pays tangible psychological dividends especially when compared with -not tending to your mental suffering at all-. For that, dianetics may thank the schools of psychology that inspired it. According to ex-member Stacy Brooks: “Dianetics and the Grades are basically a simple form of regression therapy. The theory of regression therapy is that by going back and revisiting moments of trauma, one can resolve confusions that were created by the trauma and thereby free up more of one’s mind for creative endeavors.” ref
Auditing is like levelling up in a game you’ve mastered except that with auditing you are levelling up at life and within the ranks of Scientology simultaneously. Just like with ‘potty-training’, if the individual isn’t convinced by the intrinsic value of the process he will be by the copious amount of positive feedback he gets after completing it.
For all of dianetics’ real-world therapeutic value it seems inefficient considering the benefits one could reasonably expect from so many hours of attention and guided introspection. Scientology adds to this therapy a level of redundant complexity in order to establish a dependency and introduces nuance and variation which is entirely invisible from the outside.
By introducing levels and linking success at those levels with social status and power, not to forget the great financial cost of failure and repeating those levels, Scientology quickly diverts its ‘clientele’ from a genuine interest in mental maturity towards behaviour and strategies for ‘beating the game’.
Not only has Scientology added considerable “replay-value” to what is essentially the same activity over and over, it has continued extending the game with additional (and increasingly expensive) levels, garnering even more considerable sources of income. OT IV used to be as high as one could get. At the end of his life, LRH was writing OT VII through – XV.
The currently highest obtainable level is OT VIII. The current leadership is withholding the following levels until all the sub-organisations have uniform size and statistics. Either that or because these levels are actually too ‘cuckoo for choco-puffs’.
By building this scaffold of audit-levels (and not to forget the auditor-levels) Scientology generates an impression of being both scientifically supported and exact. Which it is not! Despite its borrowing formalities from other therapies none of its levels have any grounding in cognitive science. Scientology is pacing out two distances with big and clumsy feet and claiming the difference to be exactly 0.052 inches. It is like a child building a sand castle through an intricate process of stacking, dripping and scrapping, mistakenly convinced that the end-result is anything else than a solid hump of mud.
Scientology is wall-to-wall soaked in lingo. Some of it was invented by the Ron himself and has official sway, other terms are more parochial ways that Scientologist use to show their comfort within different areas. New potential recruits become ‘Raw Meat’, the handles of the e-meter are always referred to as ‘the cans’. The word ‘e-meter’ itself is short for ‘electro-psychometer’, now named a religious artefact because of circumventing FDA regulations. Scientologists however believe it to be science and an effective tool despite their disclaimer claiming the opposite.
The e-meter is basically a ‘wheatstone bridge’, an electronic circuit that measures electric-resistance compared to a standard resistance. The application of it in Scientology resembles its function in lie-detectors, where it picks up on a change of hormones (stress-hormones). The meaning of this change needs to be interpreted, which is why polygraph tests are not exact science. Scientology, in contrast believes that the e-meter picks up on mental-mass thetan-blockages (yes, your thoughts have a weight and your massless thetan interacts with electricity (remember when I said scientology doesn’t seem to believe in anything, boy was I wrong!)).
For Scientology the unpredictable needle of the e-meter is an exact indicator and an auditor will repeat a question until they get what they consider to be a correct meter response. They will not go into what is being said. Nothing is placed into perspective. Thus the debt of the therapy being given remains superficial while the ‘gains’ from it come increasingly from the “potty-training-kudo’s” and the game-joys of “levelling-up”.
In truth, the biochemical mechanics of the body connected to an e-meter are not entirely understood. However this is about the level of ‘uncertainty’ as we currently have with respect to ‘how to make a Tokamak fusion reactor stable’. There is no need (or proof) for the ‘mental-mass’ blockings hypotheses of Scientology. As most of the electric-current (and thus the resistance) goes through your blood, relatively few cells (having channels that allow ions to flow through) determine one’s body’s resistance between the ‘tin cans’.
Just like with a standard polygraph test stress (hormones) will influences the ion-channels and thus the conductivity and reflect stress. However just as with the polygraph a few ‘sessions’ will teach a person how to control this response, which is why polygraphs also include breathing, heart-rate and blood-pressure. In control-tests the responses from the e-meter have failed to deliver the real-time reproducible results that Scientology claims it has (or rather “claimed” since now it officially does nothing and is just a spiritual artefact).
One thing Scientology has in common with smaller cults is that it systematically instructs new recruits to sever ties with the outside world. The e-meter will pick up on a “block towards scientology”, the member is then instructed to render a name of a person negative to Scientology (“Who do you think is causing this reading?”), the meter will ‘indicate’ this person is suppressive to the member (blocking him from reaching ‘Total Freedom’). According to the teachings of the religion the subject is now obligated to write a ‘letter of disconnect’ to that person disavowing any contact. If the person is not specifically blocking over Scientology, it often is enough that the subject never contact the suppressive person again.
The distance between what e-meters actually do and what Scientology believes it does has introduced its own kind of injustices reminding one of the logic used either during ‘Salem Witch trails’ or the ‘Spanish Inquisition’. This was aggravated by the habit of the Scientology-leadership of buying their e-meters, which they sold at 500% – 1000%, at the lowest possible price:
Rock slams are a violent jerking reaction of the e-meter needle. Like being caught flying around on a broom to a Middle-ager, for a Scientologist Rock-Slams are instant indication that the audited person is an ‘SP’: (a suppressive person). As Hubbart wrote: “In a normal group of 400, the actual percentage of R/Sers (cfr. Rock Slammers) is low. It’s about 8 in 400, or 2-2 ½ percent. Those figures should seem familiar. They are the same percentage for SPs. And that gives you a clue to the identification of an R/Ser.”
Being marked a suppressive person means instant social death within the church, being relieved of all your titles and positions. A SP was: “An evil person. If someone is found to be an SP by the Church, they are “Declared”, meaning they cannot have any contact with any Scientologist whatsoever.”
According to Hubbard those that ‘Rock Slammed’ on subjects concerning Scientology: “The latter is a “List One R/Ser” and it is of great importance to us that they be located and moved off lines when they are part of staffs as their intent is solely to destroy us whatever else they say: Their long-run actions will prove it.” ref In reality however, most if not all Rock Slams were actually due to cheap electronics.
If there was any doubt that the (sometimes very small) ‘Rock Slam’ was real, the subject needed to undergo a Sec Check, a Security Check, basically a very heavy-laden –often physical abusive– audit involving one or more ‘specialist’ auditors that basically assumed you were a hostile agent and interrogated you accordingly. Since it was considered a form of ‘auditing’ you had to pay for the pleasure.
Hubbard: “The procedure is to vigorously sec check the pc on the subject of the reported List One R/S. This Sec Check must be done by an auditor who knows R/Ses and can make lists read and pull W/Hs connected with R/S.” ‘W/Hs’ means ‘withholds’ and means ‘wilfully covered-up transgressions’, in this case transgressions against Scientology.
- “Have you ever slept with a member of a race of another colour?”
- “Have you ever had anything to do with Communism or been a
- “Are you a member of the police?”
Other questions during the Sec Check regarded the individual’s stance towards LHR or his wife. ref Sec checks would often comprise multiple runs of 130 questions like these, yelled at you, while connected to a crude unreliable lie-detector and repeated multiple times until you had given sufficient explanation to why you ‘read’ on certain of them and until your needle ‘cleared’.
Having glossed over some of the core activities within Scientology we find that Scientology’s conviction regarding the value of its therapy is actually part of their religious irrationalities. While, as a religion, they are entitled to nursing these ideas, it is troubling that it seems to have stimulated the development of a fictitious internal-enemy-mythology. The pseudo-scientific sauce with which they have covered their ‘therapeutic’ activities leading only to unjustified confidence on this aspect. Like Christianity, Scientology seems to employ ‘ex-communication’ as a form of coercion to ensure obedience. Unlike Christianity it seems to employ an electronic ‘lottery’ to decide whom to subject its discipline on. And while Christianity’s days of excommunication seem long past, for Scientology this remains a reality to the present day.